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Smarter Balanced will be cut by 1 to 2 hours with no impact on accuracy of scores, state says. Get the details here:

  • The “Smarter Balanced” standardized tests in math and English language arts that California students will take in the spring to measure their academic progress will have fewer questions and take less time than the pre-Covid versions.
  • The drawback will be that the test results to parents won’t provide as much information as in the past.
  • The shorter version of the tests will give districts more flexibility in scheduling the tests, free up time for more instruction and reduce the potential for internet glitches with fully online test.

Coming in Spring

  • Smarter Balanced tests will be mandatory in spring 2022.
    • The short version of the combined math and English language arts tests will take:
      • 4 1/2 hours for grades 3 to 5 – 90 minutes less than before
      • 4 hours, 45 minutes for grades 6 to 8 – 75 minutes shorter
      • 5 ½ hours for 11th grade – 2 hours shorter.
  • Performance tasks — the longer problem-solving and research exercises on the test — will remain intact, while the multiple-choice questions will be cut in half.
  • Scores will be just as accurate, since the proportion of questions will be equally reduced in all areas of the tests
  • Parents will receive their students’ scores along with their ranking — whether the scores were far below standard, below standard, at standard or above.

The Problem

  • Parents won’t get is their child’s scores on components of the test: reading, writing, listening, and research and inquiry for English language arts; and concepts/procedures, problem solving, communicating reasoning and data analysis for math.
  • Civil rights and groups advocating for low-income students opposed the short form for its lack of detail.
    • Losing key summative data makes it more difficult to gauge performance on key standards
    • More difficult to tackle equity of opportunity and identify achievement gaps across ethnic and racial groups
    • Schools should be providing parents with more information about student performance — not less.
  • The Local Control Funding Formula Equity Coalition, representing a dozen statewide organizations, argued that
    • a shorter test could actually result in more total testing time.
    • districts “may end up backfilling” information not provided by Smarter Balanced by administering additional local assessments.
  • Districts should be using more “interim” tests and short or “formative” assessments throughout the year.
    • “allow educators to drill down and see how students are doing within particular content and topic areas,” said board President Linda Darling-Hammond.
    • That’s what the state should be encouraging
  • Short test form may be recommended for continued use in future years.
  • Use of the short form in the spring would not interfere with plans by 2024 to add a “growth model” as a way to measure student test scores.
  • Shorter version would provide more flexibility to administer the test and would improve equity for students who were disproportionately impacted by technical/internet issues.
  • Smarter Balanced scores next spring will be publicly reported and applied to the California School Dashboard in 2022 for the first time in three years.
  • The rating system measures improvement or lack of progress in schools and districts using multiple indicators.
  • The dashboard’s color rating system ratings won’t reappear until 2023.

Read full article HERE

  • Related presentation: The California Department of Education explained its proposal for the Smarter Balanced test and an update on other assessments to the state board . Go here to see the presentation.

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